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An Aldi supermarket opened recently in the area. I had never been to one before today. Sheltered life and all that.

So I went to Aldi to check it out. It was an exercise in PsyOps in the market. Complete psychological manipulation in every aspect of the grocery shopping experience. Aldi versus the customer.

For instance, I went in the store looking for one of those small plastic baskets to carry my groceries.  I wasn’t planning on buying much. No baskets. Anywhere.

So I went back outside to fetch a carriage. Thing is you need a quarter, as in $0.25, to get a cart unlocked. What?!? The carriages were all chained together. I fished in my purse and found a quarter. I put it in the lock and got my cart. But it would have been extremely inconvenient if I didn’t have a quarter. Two dimes and a nickel would not have worked.

Oh. You get your quarter back when you return your cart to the front of the store where the carts were all chained up. Like a good little customer.

It is ingenious from the business standpoint. The quarter incentivizes the customer to return the carriage to the central collection point as opposed to leaving it in the parking lot. In this way, the grocery store doesn’t need to repeatedly send employees out during the day to collect the carts or clean up the parking lot. Lower labor costs. It probably avoids shopping cart damage to cars too.

Oh, and Aldi doesn’t accept credit cards, just debit or cash. In my opinion, payment restrictions of any kind suck. Apparently, Aldi doesn’t want to pay the credit card surcharges. Never mind what is convenient for the customer. Aldi is looking out for Aldi.

No bags. Bring your own or buy some there. Or use an empty box if one is available.

The cashier doesn’t bag your groceries. That is up to you. The customer takes the groceries out of the cart and places them on the conveyor belt. The cashier rings the groceries up and places them back in the cart. I guess it would slow things down for the cashiers to bag the groceries. It is better for Aldi and their bottom line to make you do it yourself. There is a long counter near the exit for you to bag your groceries.

Just a couple examples of how Aldi manipulates customers to get the business’ desired results. Never mind product placement and store flow techniques. Ick. Just ick.

I suppose the lower labor costs and cost avoidance techniques Aldi uses means they can pass along the savings to the customer in terms of lower prices. Not sure that is what actually happens. Sure, avocados were $0.49 each as opposed to $1.00 at the other local markets. But I felt like I needed to shower after shopping there. I felt so used and manipulated.

So let my experience with Aldi’s psychological manipulation serve to inform you and set reasonable expectations of what it is like to be a “valued” Aldi customer. Just my two cents worth.

Yours, Merryweather